Canadian bioplastic firm closes Series A financing

By Erin Voegele | August 16, 2012

Vancouver, British Columbia-based Solegear Bioplastics Inc. has secured Series A financing, led by Yaletown Venture Partners and joined by a number of leading angel investors.

“The completion of this major financing milestone is yet another important step toward Solegear’s goal of being a leader in the bioplastics industry,” says Solegear founder and CEO, Toby Reid. “Our focus on customizing our Polysole bioplastic solutions for our customers’ unique sustainability needs has allowed us to differentiate in the marketplace. By creating a network of strategic partners for R&D, distribution and fulfillment, we are able to access the very latest biopolymer technology and deliver high-performance bioplastics products at a competitive price. This capital-efficient business model has been very appealing to both our customers and the investment community.”

Solegear’s bioplastics production process takes in fermented plant starch as its primary feedstock. Reid said that the fermented starch essentially serves as a molecular backbone of Solegear’s proprietary polymers. The material is thermally compounded with a number of proprietary inputs to create a biobased polymer suitable for use in high-performance applications.

Solegear is currently producing bioplastics on a commercial scale. Reid noted that the company has access to capacity to produce its products on scales of up to several hundred million pounds. However, Solegear does not own the manufacturing equipment. Rather, the company has formed partnerships that cover all stages of the production process, from creating the polymer to designing and delivering a final product to customers.

Regarding the biopolymer production, Reid specified that Solegear currently has tolling agreements in place to produce the biobased plastic material. However, the company will also look to form other types of manufacturing agreements in the future. “If and when the opportunity presents itself to look at a different model, we are…going to be going in that direction,” he said.

One unique aspect of Solegear’s business model is that the company focuses on delivering its customers a finished product. “That means we design a polymer unique to them, and we help them design a product unique to them,” Reid said. “All of that is part of the customized solutions we offer.”

The Series A funding that was recently announced will support Solegear’s activities in several ways. Reid said that a portion of the funding will help meet customer demand through the purchase of raw materials and sales support. Some of the funding will also be used for intellectual property purposes and to put a strong management team in place that will allow the company to continue to grow.